US yet to decide on taxing imports from Vietnam

By Phuong Anh   January 8, 2021 | 05:45 am PT
US yet to decide on taxing imports from Vietnam
A container ship docks at the Tan Cang - Cai Mep Port in Ba Ria - Vung Tau, southern Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock/Hien Phung Thu.
The U.S. has made no decision on imposing tariffs on Vietnamese goods regarding the recent allegation of currency manipulation, a Vietnamese minister says.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is still in the process of investigating and evaluating all opinions regarding Vietnam’s monetary policy and has not made a final decision on whether or not to impose tariffs, according to a statement issued Friday by Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The statement was issued after trade minister Tran Tuan Anh talked on the phone with U.S trade representative Robert Lighthizer.

Lighthizer said there had been false reports on his office planning to impose tariffs on Vietnam exports.

Anh said that the U.S.’s investigation of Vietnam’s monetary policy could have negative impacts on bilateral relations between the two countries, impacting thousands of businesses and millions of Vietnamese and American workers.

He said that Vietnam is a developing country with limited economic potential and therefore its monetary policy only serves to control inflation and ensure macro stability, not to create unfair trade advantages.

Vietnam’s buying and selling of foreign currency seeks to enhance its reserves which are currently lower than other countries in the region and is not done with intent to undervalue its own currency, he said, adding that the action also aims to improve the country’s financial security and credit ratings.

Concerning the U.S’s investigation on Vietnam’s timber, Anh said that Vietnam is strictly controlling the import and usage of this material. The country is willing to actively cooperate with U.S. authorities in their investigation, he added.

The minister requested that the USTR carries out its investigation with fairness and transparency with careful consideration of the impacts of its decisions.

The U.S. Treasury last month labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators, a claim the latter has strongly refuted.

Most U.S. associations and companies have expressed concerns at a hearing held last month that if the U.S. imposed tariffs on Vietnamese goods, U.S. consumers and businesses would be hurt.

In other attempts to resolve the issue, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and U.S. President Donald Trump had a phone conversation on Dec. 22, while Foreign Affairs Minister Pham Binh Minh phoned U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Wednesday.

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